Curated by Phong Bui, both shows are proposed experiments to explore the various conditions that lead to the production of small paintings: how paintings' sizes are determined by artists' conscious and unconscious intentions, and how those sizes, in turn, affect their relation to viewers in the various spaces the artworks quietly occupy in contemporary visual culture.
The exhibition opens at Mana Contemporary on Sunday, October 18, 2015, with a reception from 1 to 6 p.m. A concurrent exhibition will be on view at School of Visual Arts Chelsea Gallery from November 21 - December 22, 2015, with a reception on Saturday, November 21, from 5 to 7 p.m.
Bui commented that both curatorial ideas were inspired by Jackson Pollock's admiration for Albert Pinkham Ryder, whose modest-sized paintings, such as Moonlight Marine (1870 - 90) which measured 11 ½ x 12 inches, evoke monumental scale and immensity of space, while Pollock's large-sized canvases attain a sense of intimacy. The show also references Thomas Nozkowski's term, “reasonable size paintings,” that describes his two standard sizes, 16 x 20 inches and 22 x 28 inches, within which he has consistently worked since the early 1970s.
Part I: Reasonable Sized Paintings at Mana Contemporary will focus solely on works by artists who have consistently made paintings approximately within this modest scale. Artists include: Joshua Abelow, Peter Acheson, Etel Adnan, Ellen Altfest, Tom Burckhardt, Rackstraw Downes, Helmut Federle, Robert Feintuch, Mark Greenwold, Josephine Halvorson, Merlin James, Bill Jensen, Katy Moran, Thomas Nozkowski, Ann Pibal, Sylvia Plimack Mangold, James Siena, and Robert Storr.
Part II: Unreasonable Sized Paintings at SVA Chelsea Gallery does not, in this instance, refer to unorthodox variations in canvas shape or size, but rather to particular occasions where painters, who otherwise produce larger works, feel compelled to make paintings approximately within this modest scale—occasions that are often less influenced by reason than by the need to concretize, without limitation, pure emotion or spontaneous thoughts. This category is the most commonly practiced among painters including Michael Berryhill, Sebastian Black, Katherine Bradford, Lois Dodd, Louise Fishman, Ron Gorchov, Joanne Greenbaum, Nora Griffin, EJ Hauser, Sanya Kantarovsky, Alex Katz, James English Leary, Matvey Levenstein, Dean Levin, Margrit Lewczuk, Chris Martin, Loren Munk, Catherine Murphy, Aliza Nisenbaum, Joanna Pousette-Dart, Ellen Phelan, Tal R, Neo Rauch, Julia Rommel, Cordy Ryman, Julia Schmidt, Juan Ulsé, Don Voisine, Merrill Wagner, Roger White, Terry Winters and Lisa Yuskavage.
In conjunction with the exhibition, poetry reading, dance performance, and panel discussions will be organized at both venues. Admission to all events is free to the public. A free color catalogue of the exhibition will also be available.